Saturday, September 20, 2008

Jefferson Calls the Trinity a Three-Headed Monster

From his letter to Rev. James Smith, December 8, 1822:

No historical fact is better established, than that the doctrine of one God, pure and uncompounded, was that of the early ages of Christianity; and was among the efficacious doctrines which gave it triumph over the polytheism of the ancients, sickened with the absurdities of their own theology. Nor was the unity of the Supreme Being ousted from the Christian creed by the force of reason, but by the sword of civil government, wielded at the will of the fanatic Athanasius. The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs....In fact, the Athanasian paradox that one is three, and three but one, is so incomprehensible to the human mind, that no candid man can say he has any idea of it, and how can he believe what presents no idea? He who thinks he does, only deceives himself. He proves, also, that man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without a rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck.

The entire thing is worth a read.


Tom Van Dyke said...

The Treaty of Paris [1783], which ended the Revolutionary War, where "his Britannic Majesty" recognized "the said United States" as "free sovereign and independent states," and was signed on behalf of those "said United States" by John Adams, Ben Franklin and John Jay, begins:

In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity.

No, I'd never pump any role for the Holy Trinity in the actual Founding, that of the framing, signing at ratification of the Constitution. The Trinity had zero role in the Constitution, except the "In the year of our Lord part," which was a custom & practice of that time.

But Franklin, Adams and Jay signed the damn thing. At least 2 out of 3 didn't believe in the Trinity but they didn't make a big deal out of it. Geez.

Jonathan Rowe said...


It's kind of neat putting this treaty together with the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli which famously declared the United States government is in no sense founded on the Christian Religion. The secularists love to cite that one. And the other side counters this WAS a treaty with a Muslim nation that tried to placate them.

Fair enough. And the Treaty of Paris WAS with a nation that had an officially established Trinitarian Church....

Tom Van Dyke said...

Aye, mate. I expected the Treaty of Tripoli [1797], which is fair.

Those guys would say anything to get religious zealots off their backs, and I would, too. I'd sign a treaty in the name of the Almighty Spaghetti Monster if it stopped the killing.

But it would be foolish for history to draw any conclusions from that...

Bruce said...

There is no mention of a 'trinity' in either of the testaments. It's a mongrel ideal from a church based on forged writings and superstition.

Jefferson's 'bible' took out the 'miracles and declarations of divinity' to reveal a teacher's sayings. Is it a wonder that gullible sheeple parrot sayings from texts that can be made to say anything? Christ, I had an evangelical friend tell me "Jesus wrote the Commandments" in the Old Testament. Please note: there is no Trinity in the Old Testament, no Jesus, no Holy Ghost.
Personally I find Dr Ehrman's writings [Misquoting Jesus] and his adoption of atheism truer to the enlightened minds of the founding fathers. Oh, wait! America's education system doesn't teach children history!

Anonymous said...

Jehovah was Jesus before he was born. And if you accept that belief than what the "evangelical friend" said about Jesus wrote the 10 Commandments is correct. Try to understand what they mean before arguing with the individual statements. (I'm not part of the evangelist religions, though my Church is quite evangelical, as a description of our actions.)

tclbjr said...

In reference to whether the US constitutional construct was influenced by a tri-unity understanding of the Almighty, I'd say the evidence is conclusively yes.

The embodied the concept with the three branches and gave it life in the establishment of relationships between each that cause an accountability, responsibility and dependency in and on each other that continues to support the obese body it has grown into.

For practical purpses, and easily understood method of understanding the biblical presentation of the relationship that 1x1x1=1 concept of the Creator consider Genesis 1:1.

In the beginning-(time)- 3 elements-past,present future.

God-Father, Son, Indweller

Created-(deed)- Motive, act, consequence

The heavens-(space) - 3 diminsions-height, width, depth.

The earth- (matter) - 3 components- weight, density, volume.

Let there be Light- 3 primary colors- red yllow, blue.

I realize the elementary nature of this illustration, but foundations are by nature elementary. Each of these tri-unity elements of our creation have 3 distinct components that cannot be seperated from each other and the whole be understood or complete.

They are wonderfully simple yet infinately complex in nature.